Today, September 15th is World Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Day. Child advocates around the globe are wearing purple, tweeting purple, and posting all over social media #PurpleFriday to create awareness about an epidemic that is killing the future potential of our children every day.
The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute says that 95% of child sexual abuse can be prevented through education. Ninety-five percent! So why isn’t everyone lining up to take child sexual abuse prevention training? It makes people too uncomfortable. That discomfort is what allows predators to be successful.
In the book, The Socially Skilled Child Molester, Carla van Dam, leading Psychologist, writes that molesters deliberately target those adults and organizations who refuse to discuss child sexual abuse, who are too polite to speak up when boundaries are crossed or do not educate themselves on what grooming behaviors look like and setting boundaries.
90% of abuse happens at the hands of someone the child knows and trusts, 30% of which is by their own family members!
If you think child sexual abuse doesn’t affect you, you are wrong. As a tax-payer you should know the average lifetime cost per victim of child abuse is $210,012* costing the U.S. billions annually. These expenses are largely paid for by the taxpayer. However, the real cost to society is that victims of abuse suffer from PTSD, anxiety, perform lower in school, have higher dropout rates, higher teen pregnancy, increased substance abuse, are 3 to 5 times more likely to commit a crime, have higher rates obesity and heart diseases and have a lower life expectancy rate by 10 to 20 years.
What can you do to prevent child sexual abuse?
Take a child sexual abuse prevention class yourself whether you have kids or not so you can have informed discussions with your peers, kids, and those who care for children. Learn what grooming behaviors look like and how to set boundaries that will apply to every single person that comes into contact with kids.
Before placing kids in the care of others ask if they and their staff and volunteers have been trained on child sexual abuse prevention. Most people and organizations have not. Some have taken the mandated reporter training which is focused only on reporting not on prevention. Prevention is the key! If every parent asks this question and starts demanding this training, organizations will be forced to comply.
Routinely remind the kids you care for that they are in charge of their body and nobody is allowed to touch them if it is unwanted and to tell a trusted adult if it happens. Never force your kids to hug or kiss anyone. Let them dress themselves and choose their hairstyles. This empowers them to know they have the right to decided what happens to their body.
Learn the facts versus myths so that you are not blindsided when an incident occurs. Speak up and report all suspicious behavior. If you are not satisfied with the results continue to speak up until someone listens and journal all dates, times, locations and every detail possible. We can end the epidemic proportions of child sexual abuse only by being proactive versus reactive. The choice is up to you!